BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
There will be six SEC baseball programs participating in Super Regional action this weekend looking to punch their ticket to the College World Series.
But for the first time in the last four NCAA Baseball Tournaments, SEC co-champion Arkansas won’t be among them.
Instead Razorback head coach Dave Van Horn and his stuff will be continuing to focus on revamping the roster make up to get back to the CWS in 2024 as he did in 2018, 2019 and 2022.
“You rebuild your roster every summer,” Van Horn said. “It’s not going to change. That’s the way it is.
“If you don’t like it, you better find a new job if you’re going to coach at this level. That’s the way I look at it. There are some coaches that don’t like it and they got out.”
Arkansas will likely lose a significant number of players because of the Major League Baseball Draft on July 9-11, the exhausted eligibility of Brady Slavens. Jared Wegner and John Bolton and maybe some current Razorbacks leaping into the portal.
“We’re going to lose some guys,” Van Horn said. “There will be…you know how it is every year now with the way everything is set up with the portal and kids coming in.
“It’s hard to bring in a freshman and keep him happy if he’s not playing.”
Arkansas has the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class in the country according to Baseball American and Perfect Game, the highest ranking ever in the program’s history after previous highs of No. 2 by Perfect Game (2014) and No. 3 by Baseball America (2017 and 2020).
But Van Horn knows that’s a double-edged sword as the MLB draft will probably take away some of the highest-ranked prospects, including four of MLB.com’s top 60 prospects and 10 of its top 160.
Those possibilities and their MLB.com draft prospect rankings are Florida third baseman Aiden Miller (12), Colorado shortstop Walker Martin (28), Missouri shortstop Naazan Zanetelllo (52), Texas outfielder Kendall George (60), left-handed pitcher Adam Hachman ( 97), Oklahoma left-handed pitcher Collin Fisher (137), Florida left-handed pitcher Hunter Deitz (139) and California right-handed pitcher Gabe Gaeckle (158).
Current Razorbacks in the MLB.com draft rankings are outfielder Jace Bohrofen (61), pitchers Hunter Hollan (83) and Jaxson Wiggins (99) and outfielder Tavian Josenberger (114).
All those high school prospects and current Razorbacks have until July 25 to decide whether to sign with a professional organization.
“You hope they (current Razorbacks) come back, but I’m looking forward to getting this recruiting (class) in,” Van Horn said. “We have the No. 1 ranked recruiting class in the country. We’re going to get smoked in the draft and we know that.”
Van Horn will be working on filling the roles of those signees who are taken high in the draft and choose to begin their professional careers.
“We’re going to make sure that we have it covered,” Van Horn said. “The guys that get through, I hope those freshmen can help us next year.
“The guys that come back, they’ve got a lot of experience and we’ve got to get the right other guys. The grad transfers, portal guys.”
Van Horn stressed that he is looking for right fit and needs for his programs, not just super stars of which they would love have make it to campus.”
“We’ve got to get just the right ones. It’s not about getting the superstars all over the country. It’s about getting guys that are good players and good teammates.”
Photo by John D. James